Power Play Ignites Dallas Politics

Hugh Aynesworth, Washington Times, Mar. 24

DALLAS—A move to strengthen the powers of Dallas’ mayor has become a no-holds-barred fight replete with charges of racism, chicanery and Nazism.

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Voters will decide in a May 7 referendum whether to amend the city charter to grant greater powers to the mayor. Supporters say the measure would make city government more effective and accountable. All 14 council members oppose the measure, which would erode their power.

Race is an underlying issue: Half of the council members are black or Hispanic, and the mayor is white.

Laura Miller, a former council member who is now in her second term as mayor, is scorned in the black community.

Before she became a politician, Mrs. Miller was an investigative reporter who wrote critical articles about some council members, including the popular Al Lipscomb.

Mrs. Miller questioned the longtime civil rights leader’s honesty and integrity.

In 1999, Mr. Lipscomb was convicted in federal court on 65 counts of bribery and was forced to leave the council. He admitted taking cash in sealed envelopes from the owner of a major cab franchise, and records showed he voted several times to benefit the cab firm’s owner. However, some blacks blamed Mrs. Miller for Mr. Lipscomb’s troubles.

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Now Mr. Lipscomb, whose bribery conviction was overturned on a technicality in 2002, has returned to torment Mrs. Miller.

“Even the Holocaust started somewhere,” he told City Council. “Hitler—he was one man obsessed with the need of more power. A power-crazed brute.

“The mayor’s office of Dallas is not for you alone, Mrs. Miller, and your cronies. Shame. Shame. Shame.”

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